NYCC 2010: A Complete Newbie’s Perspective, Day 1

“Dude, Kevin,” I hear you say, “I’ve read all the NYCC news already. Hell I’ve been reading nothing but NYCC news for damn near a week. I’ve heard it all already!” And I’m quite sure that’s true. But this, fair Crawl Spacers, is not an NYCC news post. This could even be called the anti-news post.

This is the impressions of New York Comic Con 2010 as seen through the filter of someone who’d never been to a convention, who’d never been to New York, and who found out in short order that he is the most worthless excuse for a would-be comics journalist of all time.

See that picture to the right? You’ll notice it’s not remotely comics-related. In fact, it wasn’t even taken at NYCC, it was taken at an Irish Pub called The Pig n Whistle. That’s me on the right and my good friend who lives in NYC on the left. Why is it there instead of some awesome shot of me chilling with the Black Cat and the Scarlet Spider, all holding signs that say, “I Love Spider-Man Crawl Space .com?” Because this is both the best picture taken this weekend and the only one with me in it. Yep, that’s the kind of “journalism” you can expect here.

WARNING: Before you click to read on, be aware this editorial contains some profanity and pro-DC statements.

Ok, so many of you already know I was lucky enough to score a press pass to NYCC 2010. This much lauded green-striped badge is all the intrepid comics reporter needs to get into the convention free and even get access to exclusive press-only events! With this badge, I intended to get in there and get the scoop for you, the Crawl Spacers, and for listeners of The Geoff Johns Podcast (seriously, who says pimpin’ ain’t easy?). There would be exclusive interviews! Awesome photos! New celebrity intros! Armed with this press badge, comics creators would be tripping over each other to get a few words into my iPhone!

Uh-huh. So what’d this thing actually do for me? Well, it did save me the $50 fee for a weekend pass, so I must sincerely thank the NYCC people for that. Beyond that? Well, let’s just say free don’t come cheap.

As I entered the Javits Convention Center on 11th Avenue in New York City, running from 34th all the way to 38th Street, there was a bustle of activity. A large line had formed near the entrance for those that had not yet claimed their tickets. “Fools!” I thought. “I am armed with an email, which I just need to get to the press office to claim my press badge, granting me far greater access than your mortal minds can even imagine, and without waiting in your pathetic lines!” One problem – where the fuck was the press office? After looking around for awhile unsuccessfully, and being denied access to a stairway that had a sign pointing to it which said, “Panels and Screenings,” I finally found a concierge. A concierge! Finally, a pleasant person to help me find exactly where to go. “Two levels down,” was her reply. Ooooook. I then found a tall, tall escalator to which I was not denied access to take me down to the next level. And then another. By this time I had already seen Captain Planet and a girthy Jedi Knight (by which I mean a fat guy in a bathrobe holding what looked like a spray painted plastic pipe), so I knew, at least, that I was heading in the right direction.

When finally I achieved “two levels down,” I saw in the distance a big sign that said “Press Room” beside another big sign that said “VIP Entrance.” Ah ha! The press office! All I had to do was pass by this line of people even longer than the one upstairs, and finally, I’d have press badge in hand! But wait, past the two signs, the only door was the one this large line was feeding into. If this is where the losers that had to wait in line were going, where was MY room? So I asked around. “That’s the line,” a pink-shirted shaved ice vendor told me. The fool. He didn’t understand that I had a PRESS pass. I don’t wait in lines! I asked a few more people and kept getting the same foolish, ignorant answer. I felt sorry for these simpletons that didn’t understand my status. But, finally, someone wearing a press badge walked by! I asked where I went to get MY all-access, roving comics journalist’s badge of honor and distinction.

“That’s the line.”

Oh for fuck sake.

So, a bit deflated, I waited in the line. Then I realized this line was moving about as quickly as The Thinker, and I had mere minutes to go meet Crawl Space MB member RHagen to trade him the weekend pass, which I had foolishly bought before realizing I could apply for a press pass, for cashy money. I met Mr. R (I’ll refrain from using his real name in case he wants to keep his privacy), who turned out to be an exceedingly nice fellow, and he (along with my dad who I neglected to mention made the trip with me and had been there through this whole story) accompanied me back to the long, grueling press badge line. And VIP members, apparently (who must not have been VI enough not to have to wait in a long fucking line). Long story still long as hell, I eventually made it through the gargantuan line and claimed my press badge. For which I did not need to present the confirmation email I’d been clinging to for dear life for weeks. Just an ID.

So, what was next, now that I’d claimed my golden ticket to journalistic fame and glory? A line. Yes, after the interminable line to claim the press badge, I now had to wait in the line with everybody else to get into the convention proper. No matter. This line seemed to be moving and wasn’t very long. I could see the end of it from where I was. Super. Or not.

First, we were told we had to go back up the escalator to the next floor to find the actual end of the line. So we did. In line, we went back down the escalator then around the back of it, down a hallway, and a bit more to finally get back to where we’d started. Ok, the end was in sight.

Or not.

What I thought was the entrance was just another corner. Then down another hallway. Around. Through a small room. Back up another fucking escalator. Through a room. Down a fucking escalator. And then…into a gigantic freaking concrete room lined all the way through with metal bars, where we were herded like livestock around and around and around metal bars for probably a good half hour. Once we made it past sweaty nerds, line cutters, and rent-a-cops, we came to a door. Ah, a door…a door that led to a fucking escalator.

And then finally, finally (now exhausted and sweating like the pig I’d just been treated like) there was the sign. “Welcome to New York City Comic Con 2010!” And we were ushered in – to the convention floor. The packed, crowded, ridiculously designed convention floor. Also, the wrong place. You see, the first panel I planned to attend was The Geoff Johns Spotlight, which I’d started out with way more than plenty of time before it started. Now I was down to about ten minutes. We had to roam around for awhile and find a map to tell us we needed to be two levels down and across the convention center.

We made it, thankfully, and at this point I bought a $4 coke (for which price I fully expected actual cocaine, but just received a standard 20 oz. bottle of Coca-Cola Classic). This would be the last time I bought anything inside the convention, but damned if I was going to leave the building and try to reenter now just to save money. And I was freaking parched. Clearly, they charge these prices because they fucking CAN.

That far away blur that looks like it might be wearing a white t-shirt? Geoff Johns. Yes, this is the kind of pictures a press pass and an iPhone will get you.

And so, we made it to our first panel. It was in room 1A08, which I would be basically living in for the next three days. The Geoff Johns Spotlight panel was a pretty decent first panel ever to get me started without jumping into the deep end. It was moderated by editor-extraordinaire Eddie Berganza, and, as the title suggests, the entire panel was Geoff Johns. He jumped right into fan questions which, honestly, ended up making the thing a bit bland. And, to be fair, Mr. Johns seemed a bit understandably tired.

There were some interesting things to be gleaned here, though. Evidently FrankenBerry cereal is not as good as Geoff remembered it, but is still the best designed character of all time. And Count Chocula, I learned, is awesome. There was a cool moment when a fan asking a question said he was a 20-year veteran of the armed forces and got an enthusiastic round of applause for the entire audience, AND got his GL: Secret Origin comic signed on the spot by Mr. Johns. There was also a fan that just wanted to thank Geoff for not killing Kyle Rayner, which also garnered thunderous applause from the audience (and, more specifically, me).

There was some superhero action at the Con when The Blur showed up on stage. Also accompanied by The Fuzz.

A somewhat controversial comment that the audience didn’t seem quite sure how to react to came when a fan asked if DC was going to start making their movies more interconnected like Marvel’s movies. Geoff started, then stopped, seemingly considering if he should say this, and finally came out with, “I think our characters are bigger than Marvel’s.” He said he thinks each character needs room to shine on their own, not be undercut by attempts at continuity. But that first comment certainly took the audience by surprise, and garnered some laughter.

And maybe my favorite answer was when a fan asked if Johns was going to do the much-rumored Green Lantern/Iron Man crossover with Matt Fraction (a rumor started by the two creators themselves talking about how cool it would be on Twitter). Geoff smiled and simply said, “I love Matt Fraction.” Hopefully his coyness was because there is a cat to be let out of the bag.

I had some time after this panel before my next one, so RHagen went his own way and my dad and I headed out to waste some time on the Con floor (and get a much better priced hot dog and coke from a sidewalk vendor outside). Dear God I hate the Con floor. I found out for damn sure this weekend that I am not a crowd person. At least not crowds that packed and crushing. I felt like a damn sardine on that floor. As I understand it (because I did not go in with a field guide), this tends to be where people get those interviews and pictures, after waiting in long lines to see the creators. Honestly, I’d had enough of long lines and pushy crowds already that day, and wasn’t about to go stand in line for a half hour to get a 30-second sound bite from Joe Quesada, who was pretty much the only recognizable celeb I saw signing at the time.

Tom DeFalco and Fred Van Lente sit on-panel to the right of a psychologist who thinks ASM #1 was AF #16.

So my next panel was called “Note to Spider-Man IV Movie People: Be True to Your Parker!” Seriously, that was name of the panel. My dad left before this one to go be a tourist in New York, never to return to the Con the whole weekend, but I re-met RHagen and also had the pleasure of meeting Crawl Space MB member Gregxb, another extremely nice guy.

This panel appeared to be totally unofficial, moderated by a psychologist named Robin Rosenberg (who edited “The Psychology of Superheroes”) with panelists Tom DeFalco and Fred Van Lente. Danny Fingeroth had also been announced as a panelist, but was unable to attend. This panel was basically the psychologist asking DeFalco and Van Lente questions about the character of Peter Parker. Some good, some not so much.

The highlight of this panel, of course, was hearing Tom DeFalco talk about Peter Parker. It doesn’t get much more relevant to a Spidey geek than that. Mr. Van Lente seemed like a very nice guy, but I disagreed with damn near everything he said.

There were some genuinely funny moments at this panel. Dr. Rosenberg (I’m assuming she’s a Dr. anyway) had prepared slides to go along with her questions, which were comic panels with a credit underneath of which issue they came from. Eyebrows raised across the entire room when a panel from Amazing Spider-Man #1 popped up (of Pete thinking about joining the Fantastic Four for money) and the caption read “Amazing Fantasy #16.” Our geek-senses tingled immediately. When someone pointed it out to her, she just about died laughing, saying she prepared the slides late at night. No harm, no foul. But damn. Later, when Dr. Rosenberg asked the panelists how Peter might be different if people knew how and why Uncle Ben died, the room broke out in laughter as Tom DeFalco somewhat exasperatedly told her he’d change quite a bit since they’d have to know he was Spider-Man! She considered the answer for a bit before laughing as she realized what he meant.

But undeniably the best moment of the panel came when a fan brought up, yes, the already-infamous OMIT. The fan asked Mr. DeFalco, having spent so much time with her, what he thinks Baby May Parker’s status might be now in Marvel continuity. DeFalco, once again a bit exasperatedly, responded, “I can’t even figure out what Marvel continuity is anymore!” And there was applause. Oh, there was applause. Thank you, Mr. DeFalco, for speaking for us, the fans. We feel ya.

My last panel of the day (for which I took no far away, blurry pictures, sorry) was the last half of the DC Nation panel. My original intention had been to pop into the first half of the Parker panel and then run over to the DC Nation panel, but really, once Tom DeFalco started talking about Spidey, could YOU have left? So Gregxb headed on his way and RHagen and I ducked into the standing-room-only DC Nation panel for what was left. Immediately you could feel the energy of this room when you walked in. Dan DiDio stood at the podium beside a panel of some of DC’s biggest creators, and he was wearing a sleeveless Nightwing t-shirt. When a fan in the audience later pointed out the shirt, reminding Dan he had once wanted to kill Nightwing in Infinite Crisis, DiDio responded, “I was wrong. You guys converted me!” to thunderous applause. After chuckling at that, DiDio added, “Now you know why I wanted to kill Nightwing – I wanted to BE him!” And this was indicative of the panel. As with most of DC’s panels this weekend, it really seemed to be the creators and the fans just having a good damn time together. We all had a great laugh, Dan was smiling the entire time, applause flowed freely, and all the slap-happy Con-goers seemed thankful for this fun release at the end of day 1. I know I was.

And of course, the panel couldn’t go off without a few of DiDio’s patented accidental announcements. At one point he started saying something about James Robinson’s Congorilla one-shot (which would come back to bite them in the ass on Day 2 – stay tuned). Bob Wayne, VP of Sales and Marketing, banged his head down on the table as one of the panelists informed DiDio that the one-shot hadn’t been announced yet. DiDio looked over at Wayne, whose head was still on the table, and said, “Bob, you’re supposed to stop me from doing these things. Were you asleep?” DiDio seemed a little embarrassed, but everyone had a good laugh over it and the panel went on. Later, when time was winding down, DiDio announced that the rest of the questions would have to be a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ lightning round to get in as many as possible. And, in the speed and heat of the moment, when one fan asked if the green martian stalking Martian Manhunter in Brightest Day was Martian Manhunter’s wife, Dan quickly replied, “No.” He then took a quick step back from the podium and exclaimed, “Shit!” before Bob Wayne got up and led DiDio back to his chair, and took over the final few questions. In the end, a good time was had by all, and we left the panel with smiles on our faces.

Seriously, how freaking cute is Jill Pantozzi?

I’ll also admit I was actually a bit starstruck at this panel, not by the presence of Dan DiDio or even J. Michael Straczynski, but by seeing Jill Pantozzi, aka The Nerdy Bird, aka Has Boobs, Reads Comics. If you don’t know who she is you really should. She was at the panel covering it live for Newsarama, so I really just saw her sitting up front and going by after. I’ve always gotten the impression via her internet persona that she is a delightful person, but I did not get the chance to stutter and get tongue-tied trying to talk to her this weekend. But, sadly, her Twitter account specifically states that she will not marry me anyway. So the search for an adorable, geeky redhead who WILL marry me continues.

And thus ends Day 1. I had only intended to write one article about NYCC, but I can see this is going to take a LOT longer than I thought. So I’ve just now added the “Day 1” part in the title of this article, and will be following up soon with two more to cover Day 2 and Day 3.

Coming up in Day 2, my single favorite moment of the entire Con – Larfleeze!

This photo was posted on Alex Segura's Twitter. It should be obvious I didn't take it, since it appears to have been taken by an actual comics journalist.